Improving Public Understanding of Antibiotic Resistance

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The term “antibiotic resistance” can sound confusing and, thus, scary.  Antibiotic resistance is the refusal of the host to accept the treatment of antibiotics. This happens when a germ or bacteria no longer responds to a drug used for treatment. 

Over the past several years, we have seen greater scrutiny of the use of antibiotics. This is due to a growing number of infectious diseases becoming resistant to current treatments.  Veterinarians, physicians and consumers assess the challenges differently, but they understand the fact that antibiotic resistance is a global threat to public health. It is obvious that the need for diverse stakeholders to address this topic is becoming a priority.

To address this issue, the IFIC Foundation brought together various stakeholders (veterinarians, physicians and government) and identified opportunities to improve understanding of antibiotic resistance. The group evaluated the global impact of antibiotic usage, the challenges different disciplines encountered and opportunities to better communicate with the public.  

The roundtable’s recommendations matched elements found in the report by the Obama Administration’s Task Force on Antibiotic Resistance and the World Health Organization’s Global Report on Antimicrobial Resistance

Here is a summary of our roundtable’s findings:

  • Long-term collaboration with the Center for Disease Control’s National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring Systems for Enteric Bacteria (NARMS) program to track trends in resistance;
  • Engagement with the One Health Initiative to foster greater conversations among diverse disciplines;
  • Ongoing consumer and public education about safe food handling as well as the responsible use of medically prescribed antibiotics.

The roundtable was co-chaired by Mike Doyle, regents professor of microbiology and director of the Center for Food Safety at the University of Georgia.  He was joined by David Acheson, MD, president and CEO of The Acheson Group, who guided the conversation. The full proceedings of the roundtable are now published in the September/October edition of Food Protection Trends

The IFIC Foundation will continue to provide a forum for diverse stakeholders to address antibiotic resistance. On Nov. 3, 2016, we will take part in the first global One Health Day. This day is hosted by the One Health Initiative, a worldwide platform for collaboration in all aspects of health care for humans, animals and the environment. Our educational resources on antibiotics and their safe usage will be available through the One Health platform to people from around the world.  

Antibiotic resistance cannot be attributed to one single factor. Learning and sharing among diverse audiences can lead to ways to ensure antibiotic resistance is not a threat for future generations. 

This blog post was written by Anthony Flood and Silvia Dumitrescu